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Ireland mulls delaying 2nd Covid-19 vaccine doses amid J&J delays & AstraZeneca age limits

Ireland mulls delaying 2nd Covid-19 vaccine doses amid J&J delays & AstraZeneca age limits
The Irish government has said it is considering whether to space out the administering of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in order to reach more people with a first dose as the country looks to open up from tough restrictions.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Thursday, the Irish deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar, said it would make sense to space out the administering of the Pfizer shots, like in the UK, for those under 60 years old and in good health. 

The current interval between the administration of the two shots is 28 days, but some other countries have extended that to 12 weeks, allowing more people to be partially immunized against coronavirus in a shorter period of time. Research from the UK, before the country approved the Moderna jab, showed that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines greatly reduced the risk of hospitalization from Covid-19 after just one shot.

On Wednesday, Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said a decision on whether to spread the vaccines out would be made within the week. 

Also on rt.com Oxford research suggests risk of rare blood clotting HIGHER for Covid-19 than for VACCINES

The possible move comes as the EU’s medicines regulator reviews the use of the single-shot J&J vaccine and after Ireland limited the AstraZeneca vaccine to those aged 60 and over. On Tuesday, J&J said it would be delaying shipments to Europe while the vaccine is being reviewed following its suspension in the US; its rollout is yet to start in the EU. Similar technology was used in the development of their vaccines, which have been linked to very rare cases of blood clotting. 

Meanwhile, the EU announced on Wednesday that the bloc would be receiving an additional 25% of vaccines doses in quarter two from Pfizer. 

Despite limiting the use of the Anglo-Swedish vaccine, the Irish government advised people to think twice about turning it down. Varadkar said that if you refuse the first jab offered, then you are essentially putting yourself to the back of the queue and may have to wait until everybody else gets vaccinated. 

The deputy PM said he was keeping an eye on the English “experiment” of reopening the country “when they have half vaccinated half their population” as Ireland eyes its way out of lockdown.

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